Where Our Rivers Converge
Although raised in Evanston, Illinois in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, Linda Howard said her weekends visiting her grandmother’s farm in Dekalb, Illinois and spring vacations in Florida are what really shaped her artistic sensibilities and the sculptures she has shared with the world.
“I live in Florida now, but when I would come down here as a kid for spring vacation, I loved the beaches and white sand. I’d collect shells, and I loved the structure of the shells. I think as a child I was just fascinated with the structures that you find in nature.”
It’s that very focus which made Howard the perfect artist to provide the visual anchor for the new Promenade Park. Howard’s piece, Convergence, was chosen from a field of five submissions. Although Howard had never been to Fort Wayne until after her submission was chosen, she said she was inspired by the geographic setting where the sculpture will be spotlighted.
“I loved the description of the site where it will be, and I love the idea of the convergence of the three rivers. That is the kind of thing that is of great interest to me.”
Howard was asked by the committee to submit a proposal for the sculpture, having already placed some iconic pieces in other public areas, the first being 1972’s Up Over installed in Ogallala, Nebraska. In the 45 years since, Howard has had dozens of installations spread around the world. Her unique take on nature and her specific vision for representing Fort Wayne’s three beloved rivers was why the committee chose Convergence.
“We were pleased to partner with Arts United and such a diverse selection committee to ensure that the sculpture chosen would be a piece the community would be proud of, and it was reassuring that Convergence was chosen unanimously with so many stellar proposals,” said Parks & Recreation Director Al Moll at the time of the announcement. “It’s exciting to envision the many families who will gather in front of this towering masterpiece for a photo they’ll cherish forever.”
Howard visited Fort Wayne earlier this year but said that with no physical site to yet visit, she looks forward to seeing the new park as much as Fort Wayne does. She’ll return for the official unveiling in June 2018. There will also be an exhibit in her honor at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to coincide with the unveiling. Having experienced these public events many times in her storied career, Howard said she most enjoys the reactions of others to seeing her work.
“The most exciting part is when I get feedback from people. I heard from a woman in Connecticut who had just gotten out of the hospital, and she said sitting in a park there and looking at my sculpture gave her peace. I just got an email from a woman in Charleston, West Virginia to tell me how much my piece Star Burst meant to her. That’s really the best part for me is hearing from people who appreciate my work.”